Child's Assistant - Information for Young People
Child Assistants ensure that the child’s wishes and interests are heard in court and other authorities.
What's it about?
When parents separate or get a divorce, they might not be able to agree on how things should continue. For example, on who will stay in the family home or who will get the car. Or they argue about money.
But above all, it’s also about …
- Which parent you should mainly live with
- How often you can see the other parent
- How long these visits should last
Sometimes it’s also about which school you should attend or how the visits to grandma or grandpa should be arranged or where the dog or cat should live in the future as well as other things. This is a very difficult and sad situation for all children, no matter if they’re still small or, like you, already a young person.
If the parents can't agree
…a judge will decide what should happen. However, the judge must decide based on what they think is best for you. But what is best for you? Your parents love you very much and want to spend as much time with you as possible. It’s probably not easy for you to talk about your fears. You don’t want to offend or upset your mum or dad if you honestly tell them:
While adults can get support from lawyers in court proceedings, children and young people used to have to deal with their problems on their own for a long time. That’s why the UN decided that children and young people whose parents are fighting in court also have the right to receive support. For this reason, the Austrian parliament decided in 2009 that these children and young people can receive support from someone called a »Kinderbeistand«. And you’re lucky to be one of these young people!
And the most important thing
The Kinderbeistand is only there for you and he or she is not allowed to tell anyone about what you tell or ask them. Not to your mother, not to your father, not to the judge, and not to anyone else.
But there’s also something else:
Before the judge makes a decision, something called a court hearing is held. At this hearing, all the adults say what they think is best for you, but the judge also wants to hear your opinion and your wishes. Once you and your Kinderbeistand have talked about everything that’s important to you, you can think about whether you want to say something to the judge and your parents or whether you want to ask them for something. Your Kinderbeistand writes down your thoughts and wishes with you and then reads them out loud at the hearing. All the adults have to be quiet and listen while the Kinderbeistand delivers your message. Maybe then your parents can come to an agreement. And if not, it’ll be easier for the judge to make a decision that’s good for you and corresponds to your wishes.
What’s a Kinderbeistand and what do they do?
Your Kinderbeistand is a woman or man who knows a lot about young people and how difficult it is when parents separate and then fight in court.